A.J. Lancaster, The Lord of Stariel
This is a fantasy/romance, recommended by Jenny Scientist, and a delight. There's an entirely unnecessary prologue, which put me off at first; skip past that if you like, because after that the book takes off like a rocket.
Hetta Valstar, an accomplished illusionist (i.e. wizard), gets called home on the death of her father, the previous Lord Stariel, for the Choosing -- the land has to choose a new Lord Stariel / Lord Valstar. On the night of the Choosing, it seems as if the Star Stone has chosen Hetta to be the new Lord -- surprising everyone, since her cousin Jack was the odds-on favorite. But after Hetta has stepped into her role (and is doing a fine job), she learns that the Star Stone that proclaimed her the Lord is a counterfeit -- that her choosing was an illusion.
This is part romance, as I said, and part mystery. There's also a handsome fae with a secret, not to mention a moody brother with another secret, and not one but two wonderfully cranky old women.
Also! This is a trilogy -- or at least there's three books so far.
Lina Rather, Sisters of the Vast Black
Another novella marketed and priced as if it were a novel. I'm not opposed to novellas being published, God knows. It's marketing and pricing them as though they were full-length novels that irks me.
Still, this was very good: a community of nuns, traveling in a living spaceship, going from colony to colony bringing communion, baptisms, and marriage rites. Complicating this life, their ship has decided it wants to breed, and the Vatican, back on Earth, maybe be under the influence of a tyrant.
Each of the sisters is a fully realized character, the world-building is well done, and the writing is lovely.
Katharine Schellman, The Body in the Garden
During the first few pages, I thought this was going to be another Sherlock Holmes fanfic. (Not that I have anything against Sherlock Holmes fanfics, as long time readers know. See also Laurie King, Sherry Thomas, and Katharine Addison.) There are some similarities. But while this is Holmes-esque, it's not really very close to the source material.
Instead, we have a mystery-solving woman, Lily Addler, whose husband had been dead for three years. She moves to London in an attempt to kick-start her life, and ends up in the middle of a scandalous murder, which she uses her wit and intelligence to solve.
This is very highly influenced by the Regency romances of Georgette Heyer, so that was fun. Nice writing and very well done characters. This is the start of a series, apparently. I look forward to the next.
Patrick Ness, Burn
This is another YA novel from Patrick Ness which really doesn't feel like a YA novel. It's the story of a young girl, Sarah, on a farm in Washington State in 1957, in a world that has dragons. Her father, who is struggling to hold onto the family farm following the death of her mother, hires a dragon to clear the fields. The dragon, as it turns out, knows more than he says.
Not only dragons but alternate dimensions. Plus an emotionally-abused teenage assassin. Also lots of cool stuff about 1957.
This one's a lot of fun, and it looks like it's set up as a sequel.
Gretchen McCulloch, Because Internet
A book about what has been happening with language as it's used on the internet. McCulloch is a linguist and a denizen of the net, who writes an engaging, readable style. I learned a lot from this, and not just about why kids today don't use periods when they tweet and text. The section on emojis and how they're related to gestures and emblems is especially interesting.
Also, just in case tl;dr this book, McCulloch notes that not only is internet-speak not hurting the ability of kids today to write in standard English, all this time sending messages and putting posts on the net is actually making our kids into better writers. Which should not be a shock -- if you do something for hours a day, yeah, you're going to get better at it.
Nina Kiriki Hoffman, A Stir of Bones.
This is a YA novel, very lucid and a little bizarre. Excellent portrayal of someone who disassociates due to trauma, though.
It's a ghost story, of sorts. A young girl, Susan, whose father is emotionally and physically abusing her and her mother meets a group of kids who are investigating a local haunted house. Turns out the ghost in the house is real, and not only can Susan speak to the ghost, she can speak to the house (House, she calls it).
This reminds me a little of Shirley Jackson, except with Jackson Susan would be a bit evil, and here she definitely is not.